The Electronic Frontier Foundation calls section 230 the most important law protecting internet speech, but the FCC wants to tinker with it.
So let’s talk section 230 and its future when you hear section 234 Referring to the communications decency act section 230 that is titled protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material.
Section 230 c one states no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
What does that mean?
Services like Twitter or Facebook are not liable for what its users post on their services.
So if I write something defamatory about someone on Twitter, Twitter itself is not treated as the author.
I wrote it, so I’m in trouble.
Twitter may be the place where I published it.
But Twitter is not the author.
It also protects internet service providers.
It’s not like it’s Comcast fault that I wrote that horrible thing.
So 230 protects services from getting sued just because they let something be online.
Or even if they take something down.
There are exceptions, of course for certain kinds of crimes.
So what’s happening now?
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai posted a statement saying he intended to make rules to clarify section 230.
When you have laws, agencies must be given authority to interpret those laws.
So does the FCC have the authority to make rules about 230?
The FCC General Counsel said the FCC has the legal authority to interpret all provisions of the Communications Act.
Section 230 is in the communications decency act.
Which is also part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
His argument is the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is an amendment of the Communications Act of 1934.
He also says that two Supreme Court cases say the FCC has authority to interpret the Communications Act of 1934 So we’ve got authority to handle the 1996 amendments.
Let’s go back to the chairman statement.
He said members of all three branches of the federal government have expressed serious concerns about the prevailing interpretation of the immunity set forth in Section 230.
President Donald Trump tweeted repeal section 230 after Facebook and Twitter Slowed the spread of a new york post story about unverified claims concerning the son of Joe Biden.
There is some doubt that the FCC is authorized to make rules regarding section 230.
Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made this statement.
201(b) is inside Title II of the Communications Act, and Pai has gone out of his way to say that ISPs are not subject to Title II.
If the ISP is are not subject to title two, how in the world can you make this stretch that those that transmit over the ISPs are subject to title two.
The ACLU is also not thrilled, in a statement the senior Legislative Counsel at the ACLU had this to say, the FCC cannot rewrite acts of Congress to suit its whims.
Section 230 is critical.
To providing free speech online and the FCC has no authority to change it, especially not in ways that will undermine free expression.
The First Amendment protects us from government control over what we can tweet post and say online.
This includes respecting the editorial decisions of the platform’s themselves.
And someone else has something to say.
The co authors of Section 230 Chris Cox and Ron Wyden and their statement they said, We and our colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle were emphatic that we were not creating new regulatory authority for the FCC, or any other independent agency or executive branch department when we enacted section 230.
Not only is this clear from the legislative history, but it’s written on the face of the statute.
Our intent in writing this law was to keep the FCC out of the business of regulating websites, content moderation policies, and the content of speech on the internet.
So as you can see by these arguments have widened.
Cox rule making by the FCC could create a large problem where the FCC has its hands.
All over the internet and what’s on it.
We’ll have more as this story develops on my as actor and I’ll see you online.